Two storage tanks exploded at a heavy-crude upgrading project in eastern Venezuela.

The tanks at the Petro San Felix project were holding diluent, which is mixed with extra-heavy Orinoco belt heavy crude to make it lighter.

Venezuela’s heavy crude upgrading projects turn tar-like Orinoco crude into more valuable grades of oil. Moving the heavy crude from production fields requires mixing it with some form of diluent that allows it to flow through pipelines.

France’s Total SA, Norway’s Equinor ASA, Russia’s Rosneft and  Chevron hold minority stakes in joint ventures with PdVSA that produce crude and operate oil up-graders.

While the country’s main oil terminal resumed shipments after a prolonged blackout, no oil export tankers had left Venezuelan waters since March 7, the day the blackout began.

The OPEC member’s oil industry is struggling under the weight of sanctions the USA slapped on PdVSA in a violent bid to force socialist President Nicolas Maduro from power.

However, up-graders at the Petrocedeno joint venture between PdVSA, Total and Equinor and at the Petrosinovensa project between PdVSA and China’s CNPC were up and running,

At Jose, ships began loading a tanker for transporting oil between domestic ports, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. A second vessel, the Suezmax Fontana chartered by Petrochina and bound for China.

Petropiar, which belongs to PdVSA and Chevron, was close to starting up, while Petromonagas, a joint venture between PdVSA and Rosneft, was expected to take longer to start up.

Venezuela Today / ABC Flash Point News 2019.

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Blueprint for hostile take=over?